– Michael Jordan's statue will be getting some company outside the United Center.
On Sunday evening, the Chicago Blackhawks
announced that Hall of Fame legends Stan Mikita
and Bobby Hull
will also have their bronze likenesses placed outside the stadium sometime next season.
The Hawks informed both Mikita and Hull of the honor before Sunday night's game against the New York Islanders
on a Blackhawks Heritage Night celebrating the 1961 Stanley Cup championship team – which featured both Mikita and Hull.
"The greatest tribute that I'll ever have paid to me is when they put me in bronze out there in front of this building," Hull said between the first and second period of Sunday night's game against the New York Islanders
. "It's not only a tribute to me, but to all the great teams that I played on here in Chicago, all the great hockey players I played with and great coaching and management."
Mikita was also stunned by the news and overwhelmed with pride – thanking Hawks owner Rocky Wirtz, Team President John McDonough and Executive Vice President Jay Blunk.
"I don't know how to explain the euphoria," said Mikita, who played his entire career with the Hawks, had his No. 21 retired first and is the team's all-time career leader in assists, points and games played. "It'll take 10 years to get the smile off my face. You never get over a thing like this that quickly. I've admired quite a few (statues) being all over the world, but I never put myself in that same position."
According to Wirtz, it was an easy decision.
"Bobby and Stan have been so terrific for the organization for so many years," he said. "It's a way that we could show our support, and our fans from all over the world can come to see this."
That's already the case with the Jordan statues, as fans from all over the world already come to see it almost daily. Now hockey fans will have a chance to do the same with two of the biggest names in the sport.
Hull likened the feeling to his son, former St. Louis Blues
star Brett Hull
, getting a statue in St. Louis.
"I said, 'Son, this is going to be the greatest tribute you'll ever have. It will never go away. You're part of this real estate now,'" said Hull, who spent 15 years with the Hawks and ranks first in franchise history in goals and second in games played and points. "Stan and I are going to be a part of this real estate here on Madison (Street) and this great building, and when we're gone and hopefully not forgotten … when people walk by they'll remember the eras of the Mikitas and the Hulls."
As for the statues, they will be life sized and sculpted by the Rotblatt/Amrany Fine Art Studio. No location for where the statues will sit was released. The Jordan statue sits just outside the main entrance into the building and depicts Jordan soaring through the air for presumably one of his patented slam dunks.
"I don't care how big they make it, as long as they put it somewhere where people can see it and depict me the way that I played – helter skelter, all over the ice, leading with my face instead of other parts of my body," Hull said. "As long as I’m up there depicted the way I played, that's the way I want people to remember me – as the guy who got them out of their seats when I grabbed the biscuit and head up ice."
Mikita, ever the amateur comedian, had just one request.
"I just want to know where the birds are," he said. "I'll tell 'em, 'Bobby's over there.'"
As for what pose Mikita would like to see his statue have?
"I don't know," he said. "Maybe it should have something to do with hockey?"
Both Hull and Mikita have been official ambassadors for the Hawks since 2008, meeting with fans and doing public appearances on the team's behalf. When they were called up to the front office on Sunday to be informed about the statues, neither one knew what was going on.
"I looked at Bobby and said, 'What do you think's going on?'" Mikita said. "He just shook his head and said, 'I don't know.' Then he said, 'I think they're going to fire us,' so I'm very happy that we're still going to be together."